Prevent & Stop Your Bicycle From Rusting For Good


What Is The Best Way To Keep My Bicycle From Rusting?

There are a couple of easy DIY methods to remove rust from your bicycle frame, one of the methods is to get a any fizzy juice (cola, fizzy orange juice etc) that has vegetable extracts in it’s ingredients and the other method is to use white vinegar. Thankfully these items are readily available in your local supermarket and are very inexpensive

Things You’ll Need

  • Baking Tin Foil, Steel Wool Pad Or Sandpaper
  • Fizzy Juice Or Vinegar
  • Plastic Container
  • Toothbrush 
  • Protectant Gloves

You will need a roll of baking tin foil, a brush (toothbrush or a small brush you can wrap the tin foil around and rubber gloves are optional. Rubber gloves are used to prevent any rust and other elements going on your hands when removing the dust from your bicycle frame. You will need a small plastic container to pour the fizzy juice or vinegar out into

    

Fizzy Juice Method #1

Step 1: Place a small amount the fizzy juice into a small plastic container

Step 2: Take a small piece of tin foil and wet/dip the tin foil with the fizzy juice, make sure to have the shiny side of the tin foil facing outwards 

Step 3: Next start rubbing the rust on the metal area using the tin foil piece

The level of rust will often be a good indicator to the level of elbow greice and effort required to remove it. A little layer of rust should come away easily using the fizzy juice method, if  there is a thicker layer of rust, then a little more effort should be enough to remove that too

You can wrap the tin foil around a tooth brush or small brush to rub away at the rust on the metal bicycle as well, this is great for getting into awkward areas of the bicycle frame were you can not reach with your hands 

White Vinegar Method #2

Step 1: Place a small amount the vinegar into a small plastic container

Step 2: Take a small piece of tin foil and wet/dip the tin foil with the white vinegar, make sure to have the shiny side of the tin foil facing outwards

Step 3: Wear protective rubber gloves on your hands as the white vinegar can really stink your hands

Step 4: Next start rubbing the rust on the metal area using the tin foil piece

Submerging Smaller Parts

If you have smaller parts on your bicycle that are showing signs of rust, another method is to submerging them into a container with the fizzy juice or white vinegar for about an hour or two. However be aware, submerging smaller parts for too long (longer than two hours) can actually dissolve the parts into smaller fragments because of the acid levels in the fizzy juice or white vinegar, so be carefully

Alternative To Fizzy Juice Or Vinegar

Removing rust is essentially the breakdown the reddish-brown compound on a surface of metal, you want to make sure the liquid you use have a high acid level that is able to breakdown the rust layer sitting on top of the metal surface, here are some other high acid liquids that you want to use:  

Lemon/Lime Juice

There is a high concentration of acids in lemon or lime juice, the great thing about lemon juice is that’s it’s completely naturally which means there is no possibility hand skin irritation (if you happen to have sensitive skin). Using household items can lead to skin irritation due to the industrial chemicals in them, chemicals that do not agree with your skin  

Follow the same methods as discussed above but with the lemon or lime juice, scrub away the rust with a piece of tin foil or steel wool pad. Avoid letting the lemon juice sit on the surface of the metal after rubbing the rust, if you do, the lemon juice will lead to more damage to the metal surface due to its natural acidity levels. Wipe away all of the lemon juice after rubbing the rust with a towel or rag

Why Does Cola, Vinegar & Lemon Juice Effectively Remove Rust?

When first learning this it seemed surprising and shocking to me that cola, vinegar and lemon juice are very effective rust removal products and at the same time fit for human consumption. So why are these products so effective at removing rust?, it all comes down to the naturally high acidity levels found in cola, vinegar and lemon juice that makes them so effective at removing rust

Phosphoric acid, citric acid, and carbonic acid can be found in cola, vinegar and lemon juice. Phosphoric acid is commonly used for rust removal and the combination of citric and carbonic acid adds even more acidity when rubbing rust providing further breakdown

Also carbonation combined with the high acidity levels present in cola, vinegar and lemon juice can dissolve the metal oxides (rust) and remove tarnish from copper, brass and other metal alloys. Additionally cola, vinegar and lemon juice have a low pH level compared to commercial rust removers, the average pH is about 3.4 

Why Is My Bicycle Rusting In The First Place?

Rust is a chemical breakdown and is often referred to as a reddish-brown compound on a surface of metal, rust occurs when metal is exposed to moisture and oxygen in the atmosphere. Moisture may come in the form of rain water on the metal bicycle frame or it may be oxygen in the air or the two elements combined. When the metal and moisture/oxygen clash together this starts the natural process of oxidation on the surface of the metal  

Rust, also referred to as iron oxide(Fe2O3) is a very common and natural process because iron reacts so easily with moisture/oxygen in the air. This means that preventing your bicycle from rusting is a prevention process as you are fighting against the natural process of your metal bicycling frame from naturally rusting over time

Rust starts small, however can grow very quickly and eat away at the metal bicycle frame if not carefully managed, if you notice early signs of rust and treat it properly, you can effectively remove it and reduce your risk of the rust growing and getting worse

What Parts On My Bicycle Are More Prone To Rust?

One of the most common parts of your bicycle prone to rust is your bicycle chain, if the chain is not clean and well lubricated with an oil treatment on a regular basis then the dirt and oxygen/moisture can quickly start the corrosion process

The bicycle chain is particularly more likely to rust as there is very little protection for the iron, most bicycles when purchased have the chain oiled which provides an element of protection however that’s it, the rest is up to the cyclist to keep the chain well maintained on a regular basis

The chain is particularly vulnerable to rust because of its position on the bicycle, being positioned at the bottom of the bike beside the tyres, the chain is guaranteed to be splashed and layered with dirt of all sorts (mud, sewage, polluted water) which can quickly cause corrosion and rust in a matter of weeks. Always make sure to regularly keep your bicycle chain clean and well oiled on a weekly basis to avoid any rust buildup over time  

Most other parts of the bicycle like the frame, handlebars, spokes and the inner wheel trim have a layer of protection in the form of paint, lacquer, varnish, oil, grease, or wax. This layer of protection gives it a better chance against rust forming

Things to look out for is when the paint has chipped on the bicycle frame, any chips or scraps on the layer of paint, lacquer, oil, grease, or wax can expose the metal to rust buildup if not properly managed and maintained

How To Avoid Getting Further Rust On My Bicycle Frame In The Future?

Keeping The Frame Dry

To prevent rust from building up in the future you will want to keep your bicycle dry most of the time, sound practical?, no not really, however this can be easier than you think. After a day of cycling in the heavy rain, make sure to dry your bicycle frame when at home before putting away for the day into storage

A quick rub down with a rag of the overall frame can remove most of the moisture that has built up on the bicycle frame, if you don’t do this then it will lead to rust starting in small increments and gradually building up quickly on the bicycle frame. Wipe down the bicycle frame, around the spokes of the two tyres, the seat and handlebars, do this after any time you are cycling in wet conditions and you should be ok  

To prevent rust from building up on your bicycle frame it is really about proper maintenance and prevention measures, as you are fighting against the natural process of your metal bicycling frame from naturally rusting because it’s constantly in an atmosphere with moisture and oxygen  

Protective Layers

Another method to prevent rust from building up on your bicycle frame is to regularly apply a protective layer of oil or silicone, this will prevent moisture from building up on the bicycle frame in the first place 

Using a protectant grease or motor oil like WD-40 adds a layer of protection between the metal bicycle frame and moisture/oxygen in the atmosphere. Applying a protectant grease or motor oil regularly each month will prevent rust from forming in the first place. This can be applied to the bicycle frame, gears, chain and brake cables 

A well known protectant grease is J P Weigle’s Frame Saver, this is an aerosol that you can regularly spray on your bicycle frame, gears and chain to prevent the buildup of rust on your bicycle frame.  When using Frame Saver, always wear old clothing as if it will stain permanently, cover any exposed areas of skin and find somewhere with good air ventilation and lastly ensure you have good access to a rag to clean off any spillages

An alternative to a protectant grease or motor oil is a silicone based polish, a silicone based polish will similarly add a protective layer on the metal bicycle frame that will prevent rust from forming in the first place and add a nice shine to the bicycle frame

Choose A Thicker Bicycle Frame

As bicycle frames get lighter and lighter (which is great for cycling) this generally makes the bicycle frames thinner, making them more vulnerable to rust breaking down and breaking through the thickness of the frame

Rust breaking through the thickness of the frame can be catastrophic and may require an entire bicycle frame replacement. If you have a thinner bicycle frame then you’d better make sure to do more regular maintenance and prevention measures to stop rust from eating away at the entire bicycle frame 

How Often Should I Maintain My Bicycle To Avoid Rust In The Future? 

This question greatly depends on the condition and age of your current bicycle, generally an older bicycle would require more maintenance and rust prevention measures than a brand new or newer bicycle

However generally a good rule of thumb (and what I generally do) is to maintain your bicycle every two to four weeks depending on the condition and age of your current bicycle

This maintenance includes applying an extra layer of protection to the bicycle frame, around each spoke of the two tyres, the inner wheel trim, the seat and handlebars. This can include a protectant grease like J P Weigle’s Frame Saver, WD-40 or a silicone based polish

Also I would carefully observe for any chips or scratches of paint or on any protective layer all over the bicycle frame, identify any exposed areas of metal that could quickly form rust if not properly maintained and managed

Also I would suggest always drying your bicycle frame after heavy rainfall or just when it’s been a very wet day overall. Wipe down any dampness and water build up areas (in the corners of the frame especially), avoid letting any water to build up as this will definitely lead to rust, it’s just a matter of time 

Regularly wipe down the bicycle frame as mentioned before, around every spoke, the inner wheel trim of each tyre, the seat bar and handlebars if your bicycle is wet and damp. Wiping down your entire bike will only take around five minutes to do and can save you a lot of time in the future of removing large areas of rust using the methods discussed before

If you do have small areas of rust build up then apply the methods discussed before on a regular basis and you should have a relatively rust free bicycle no matter the condition or age of your bicycle

Regular Rust Maintenance

  • Maintain Your Bicycle Every Two To Four Weeks
  • Apply An Extra Layer Of Protection To The Bicycle Frame, Around Each Spoke Of The Two Tyres, The Inner Wheel Trim, The Seat And Handlebars
  • Observe For Any Chips Or Scratches Of Paint Or On Any Protective Layer
  • Always Dry Your Bicycle Frame After Heavy Rainfall
  • Wipe Down Any Dampness And Water Build Up Areas

Conclusion 

Preventing and removing rust on your bicycle is pretty straightforward and cost effective to do no matter the condition or age of your current bicycle. It’s really just a question of regular maintenance and care using the methods discussed in this article. Apply the techniques and tips in this article and your bicycle will look like a dream no matter the age or price tag   

I hope you enjoyed this article and if you have anything to add, then leave a comment down below. All of the information has been thoroughly researched and I have plenty of real world experience on this issue to add as well. Thanks for reading and enjoy!

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